Standing up to the right wing bullies. Not.

The federal election campaign turned personal as Labor leader Bill Shorten again challenged the prime minister to show strength — not weakness — and to stand up to the right wing elements of the Liberal-National coalition actively leading an anti-marriage equality campaign within government.

Malcolm Turnbull told Bill Shorten, and all Australia in a televised debate, his preferred marriage equality legislative option was a conscience vote in the parliament.

“What a weak fellow we have leading Australia.”

The inference clearly drawn from Turnbull’s admission was that he is unable to resist the influence conservative parliamentarians have over him, and a plebiscite is the only option for the nation to move forward on the issue.

“He said ‘it’s my party that makes me do it’,” said Shorten. “What a weak fellow we have leading Australia.

“Even though he knows the best option for Australia is one which he supports, he will surrender to thediktat of the right wing of his party.

“That is not leadership; that is weak.

“The best option on this issue: a conscience vote.”

“We all know, and I’ve seen the experience and spoken to people who campaigned in the Irish referendum — this plebiscite…will give a platform for people with some hateful attitudes to ventilate them in the public debate, and they may well receive taxpayer funding.

“We all know the best option on this issue: a conscience vote within the first 100 days of a Shorten Labor government,” he said.

The “credibility” word reared its head, again.

“This all goes to the prime minister’s credibility,” Shorten said.

“This PM has serious questions about his credibility.”

This article originally appeared in the Labor Herald.

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